New kitchen set to feed the homeless

Some of the team, Marc Keeley, Jenny Hardman, Chief Executive Paul Bibby and Morris Robinson
Some of the team, Marc Keeley, Jenny Hardman, Chief Executive Paul Bibby and Morris Robinson

A new kitchen to feed homeless people has been created in the borough and has ambitious plans to transform the lives of those on the streets.

The Homeless Support Project (HSP) was created in Leigh earlier this year and already provides hot meals to more than 50 people every night.

Chef Morris Robinson

Chef Morris Robinson

The charity operates from Monday to Friday at its town centre base on the first floor above a diner on Railway Road.

Since opening its doors in August the HSP has attracted support from a number of high street retailers and Leigh businesses and is also in talks with Wigan Council to expand its services.

Paul Bibby, who founded the charity with wife Lynn and heads a team of around 15 volunteers, said: “The need in Leigh is definitely there, the numbers of people coming through the door shows that.

“There are also people out there who are not classed as homeless but are sofa surfing or living in hostels so don’t have a place of their own.

People shouldn’t have to fight for food, they should get at least one hot meal a day and that’s what we offer

Paul Bibby

“People shouldn’t have to fight for food, they should get at least one hot meal a day and that’s what we offer.

“We also give them food to take away so they can survive until the next meal. Anything donated we can’t use in the kitchen goes on the shelves in the front room so people have the food we need to stay alive.”

As well as serving food on week nights the HSP’s next project is an afternoon meal for homeless people on Christmas Day.

The new project has already attracted donations from supermarkets and local organisations and businesses, with a Leigh butchers which has a stall on the market supplying meat and The Spinney mental health facility in Atherton offering food, clothing and electrical items.

The group has managed to make the facility’s kitchen big enough to cope with the amount of food being produced and is having a new cooker installed.

Paul says he has also approached the town hall for funding through The Deal to link HSP with the council’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation service.

His current vision for expanding HSP in 2017 is eventually to run on two floors of a building, with the kitchen service downstairs so heavy boxes of food do not have to be taken upstairs and counselling rooms for help with addictions and other issues.

He said: “In this day and age nobody should be on the streets and people just need help. There are a number of organisations set up to help people but it’s often a matter of trust. Service users have followed us here because they like our team and that’s essential if you’re going to be able to help.

“We couldn’t do any of this without our volunteers and the generosity of the local community. We’ve had some fantastic donations.”

Wigan Council confirmed the project has received £1,000 in the Deal for Communities Fund and will work with the kitchen to provide support and assistance to help it succeeed.

For more information visit www.hspleigh.co.uk